Every new drug to treat a disease, every hopeful cure, every true advance in medicine couldn’t happen without the participation of volunteer patients in clinical trials.
No matter how exciting a scientific discovery may be, it cannot reach people who might benefit from a new therapy, or a novel approach to disease treatment or prevention, until it has been thoroughly tested by investigators. And it can’t be tested without the help of people like you.
The federal government requires that new treatments be thoroughly evaluated in clinical trials in order to demonstrate that they are both safe and effective – safe to prescribe for patients all over the world, and effective in treating or preventing diseases that cause so much human suffering.
The participation of volunteers in clinical trials has led to “the promising prospect of developing treatments and potential cures for not only cancer, but for a wide range of illnesses including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and heart disease.”1 Clinical trials can also help lead to better ways to detect and prevent diseases and to improvements in quality of life for the millions of people who live with chronic illness.2
Taking part in a clinical trial offers an opportunity to be a vital part of an important public health effort that can help people like yourself who may be suffering from, or at risk for, a potentially life-threatening disease. People who enroll in a clinical trial typically decide to do so for a few important reasons:
- To advance medical science
- To help improve the lives of others
- To help improve their own condition or gain better access to treatment
- To earn extra money
- To receive free medical care
The decision to volunteer may also be energized by other motivations:
- The desire to make a difference
- The goal of participating in something larger than themselves
- The sense of being valued and cared for
There are other potential benefits of volunteering for research studies:
“People who participate in clinical trials often learn a great deal about their illness and about other conditions … that they might not have known about. For some participants, the best end result of a clinical trial is that they start taking better care of their own health” Kenneth Getz, founder and owner of CenterWatch and Chair of the non-profit Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP)
Getz, author of “The Gift of Participation: A Guide to Making Informed Decisions About Volunteering for a Clinical Trial,” says that other common benefits of volunteering include:
- The opportunity to meet research professionals who can introduce them to other patients suffering from similar illnesses or sharing certain risk factors
- The chance to gain a better understanding of their illness and to learn about new treatment or prevention options under development
Advances in medicine couldn’t happen without the active involvement of researchers energized and motivated by the spirit of discovery. And such progress couldn’t happen without the active involvement of patients energized and motivated by the opportunity to make a lasting contribution – to their own health and the health of others.
Other Helpful Resources:
Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP). CISCRP educational efforts focus on the designation of clinical trial participants as “medical heroes”.
- Getz K. The Gift of Participation: A Guide to Making Informed Decisions About Volunteering for a Clinical Trial. 2nd Edition. Boston, MA; The Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation. 2014.
- National Institutes of Health. NIH Clinical Research Trials and You. Why Should I Participate in a Clinical Trail?